OLYMPIA – Working and middle class families were dealt another blow today as the Senate Commerce & Labor Committee passed two bills that would roll back regulations for providing paid sick leave.
Senate Bill 5728 would allow state government to preempt any local government regulation regarding paid sick or safe leave, while Senate Bill 5726 would limit the ability of cities, towns and counties to require paid sick and safe leave to be provided by businesses headquartered outside the local government’s limits. Paid sick leave includes leave used by employees to take care of themselves or family members when they are ill. Paid safe leave is leave used when a school or business is closed for public safety reasons.
“This amounts to yet another attack on working men and women who will now have to choose between forfeiting a day’s pay or going to work sick,” said Sen. Steve Conway, D-South Tacoma, the committee’s ranking Democrat. “At a time when families are struggling and recovering from the effects of the recession, is now really the time to pass a law that reduces their pay or undercuts their health?”
SB 5728 undermines a popular law in the City of Seattle that regulates paid sick and safe leave by rendering it unenforceable. The law was passed by the Seattle City Council on an 8-1 vote in 2012 and a poll of Seattle voters taken by Grove Insight in 2011 showed it was supported by 69 percent of respondents. Those numbers did not sway the committee’s Republican majority, which passed the bill on a 4-3 vote.
“I can’t imagine why Senate Republicans feel it’s their prerogative to interfere with a popular law in the City of Seattle,” said Sen. Bob Hasegawa, D-Beacon Hill. “I find it very odd that none of the committee members who supported this bill are from Seattle yet feel the need to take down a law that benefits working families and was overwhelmingly supported by elected officials and Seattle residents.”
In addition to rolling back sick leave, the two bills would also cost parents who have to stay home with their children when they are sick or when schools or businesses are closed for public safety concerns.
“It’s bad enough many employees will lose a day’s pay when they are ill, but these bills attack parents’ ability to take care of their children without having their pay docked,” said Sen. Karen Keiser, D-Kent. “No one is immune from all germs and viruses. When a child gets sick, they need their parent with them. These bills punish employees by reducing their pay for reasons beyond their control.”
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